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In a press statement issued through Public Communications Consultants (PCCL), OAI referred to a report in Stabroek News on Wednesday, about ‘The Ogle Residents Group’ and said it was not aware and has seen no evidence that the grouping has any representative status on behalf of the residents of the Ogle/Industry/Plaisance communities.
OAI said, to the best of its knowledge, the group “speaks on behalf of a tiny number of private residents in the area”.
They had complained of not having been "formally notified" of a public hearing, held by the Environmental Assessment Board (EAB) at Ogle Community Centre on Thursday, October 31 and criticised the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) submitted to the Environmental Protection Agency on behalf of OAI.
But OAI said, since 1998, there have been three comprehensive studies with regard to the possible environmental impact of the project for the development of the terminal at Ogle, East Coast Demerara, into a municipal airport able to accommodate regional and domestic commercial aircraft traffic and conforming to the safety standards required by the International Civil Aviation Authority (ICAA).
OAI said an Environmental Resources Management Assessment and Audit was conducted in 1998 with funding by Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).
An EIA, including a Social Impact Assessment, was conducted in 2001, again, funded by IDB and both those studies were undertaken by internationally recognised and reputable companies specialising in environmental assessment, the statement said.
It added that, in accordance with the statutory requirements of the EPA ACT 1996, Ogle Airport Inc, the developers of the Ogle Airport Project submitted an EIA, prepared by a team of professional consultants and approved by the agency, on July 16, 2002.
“This assessment includes both an Environmental Impact Assessment Statement (EIAS) and an Environmental Management Plan (EMP) which complies with the terms of reference approved by the EPA.
“The EIA also includes a review of the reports of the various environmental studies which preceded the submission of the EIA, as well as the operations guidelines of the Civil Aviation Department and the reports of the public meetings which were convened by the EPA,” OAI explained.
The statement continued:”Prior to the submission of the EIA on behalf of OAI, the developers themselves held public consultations with the Ogle/Industry/Plaisance communities on May 22 at Plaisance Community High School and Ogle Community Centre and invested in considerable publicity, involving the use of mobile public address systems in these communities to encourage residents to attend these meetings.
“The proposed development of the airport, in fact, received overwhelming support from the majority of the residents attending these meetings.
OAI emphasised that the requirement of an EIA, prior to the issue of an environmental authorisation to proceed with the development of any project, is a process clearly defined under the EPA.
"The process involves the presentation by the developers of an EIA, subsequent reviews and analytical assessment of the EIA by the EPA for presentation to the Environmental Assessment Board (EAB), the conduct of public hearings which the Board may consider necessary to ascertain whether the EIA should be accepted, amended or rejected and whether an environmental permit should be issued by the Agency and, if found necessary, this process may lead to amendments to the EIA, before the EPA, under Section II of the Act, is in a position to issue an environmental authorisation.
"It is unfortunate, therefore, that any group of persons, who for whatever private or personal reasons who have provided no evidence that they are representative of the majority of persons in the surrounding communities, should believe they are somehow privileged to any special notice or to bypass or circumvent the EPA process", OAI said.